By Cristina Zenato
What is conservation?
On many occasions I receive messages and questions from people interested in contributing to conservation. The general feeling is that they need to do something special, or different or work directly in the field like I do in order to be considered conservationists. But in truth what is conservation?
It is a widely, maybe sometimes too widely used word to describe a lot of something; conservation has become an abstract word many feel they cannot fulfill. Conservation is the realization that our actions have reactions, that our presence on this planet and our way of living has had and will continue to have an impact on the creatures and environments around us. It is the realization that every single move we make can have an impact that needs to be mitigated or changed to avoid the damage. The problem is, we are so disconnected from nature that we think conservation is a separate action during a specific day: I wake up and make breakfast, I go for a run or walk, I respond to email, I work on conservation, then I continue with my day, my lunch, my gym, my movie theatre, or planning my trip, shopping, eating out.
Conservation is a life style; every one of us can be a conservationist. A small action is better than no action. Each and every one of us can contribute to the improvement of how we establish ourselves on this planet. And it does not require far away expeditions, drastic actions or incredible life changes. Conservation starts on our doorstep as we enter the house, it continues in every day choices we make and in the way we approach life in general. And it can be as much as one change, one choice or one action. Some people elect to change their dietary habits, some to avoid using plastic bags, or some use water bottles and mugs to avoid using plastic bottles and throwaway cups. Some decide to never eat take out to avoid discarding excessive garbage and plastic. Some turn off all of their electronics to save on the amount of power used, they don’t use dryers and where possible hang the laundry outside. Some walk or catch a train, while some clean up a little stretch of their road, beach, or neighborhood every time they go walking. Some decide to let their grass take its course, without worrying if it is not always green, reduce the use of sprinklers, avoid pesticides, and use environmentally friendly cleaning products.
We can pick all of those choices or just one of them, but the fact is we can start where we are and make a difference. Maybe it feels like a small difference, but it will slowly have an impact. Water can dig its way through rocks one drop at the time. It is true, we are running out of time and we need to consider acting a little faster, but before we go out in the world and look so far from us about other people’s actions, it’s a good idea to look into our own backyard. It is true; some nations demonstrate a lack of concern towards conservation and actively pursue their own interests. It is easy to use them as our centre of attention, but have we taken a moment to look at the laws of our city and our own country? Can do something in that regard? We are after all citizens of that specific place and we can contribute to those changes because our voices matter.
The fact is we forget how powerful we can be in our own space, with our own voice. We can look for others with the same desires and the same interests right where we are, unite our voices and make a difference.